Monday, March 21st, 2011
Love it or hate it, KAWS’ solo Armory exhibit with Honor Fraser drew a ton of reactions. From Artinfo’s Top 5 Worst of Show, to the pre-openign six-figure sale of a single piece installation of 21 circular canvases, there is no ignoring that the once underground artist is on a fast trajectory towards becoming a major pop star, complete with accolades and criticisms the likes of Murakami or Koons.
For the newly initiated, we can see the appeal of such playful mastery of youth culture appropriation, and likely homages to the abstraction of iconography employed by the likes of John Baldessari and Elsworth Kelley. However, for the longtime admirer, yet another batch of Spongebob paintings, further extrapolating the cartoon character into fragmented abstraction, felt like a rehashing old ideas that lacked the same energy and inventiveness of his similar Michelin Man canvases from a decade ago. Long story short – Same idea, new character. Flanked by a massive Accomplice vinyl sculpture, the display left us hoping for something new beyond mere size, and eager to see the day when KAWS combines his new found ability at large scale industrial fabrication with some fresh ideas.